Growing in Faith Through Christian Brotherhood, Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #29)

PART A

PART B

TEXT: 1 John 3:13-18

Last week, we began talking about the importance of being a part of a community of other believers in your Christian walk. Using the example of how, in Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian found Faithful and they continued their journey to the Celestial City together, we focused on the fact that the world is not friendly to those who are followers of Christ. If you don’t have other believers around you to support you, encourage you, and hold you up, you can easily become discouraged in your Christian walk.

Today, we want to take a closer look at the second mark of true Christians: not only are they hated by the world, but they love each other. Our passage states, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”

One of the first marks of a follower of Jesus Christ is that he or she loves other believers and the church as a whole. In his fine work on The Letters of John, Colin Kruse states that John points out that mutual love is the mark of true children of God. Those who love are those who have passed from death to life. ‘The expression ‘we have passed from death to life’ has a close parallel to the same phrase found in the Gospel of John where the idea of passing from death to life is synonymous with escaping condemnation and obtaining eternal life. The closeness of the expressions and the relationship between First John and the Gospel of John justify interpreting this statement to show that love for fellow believers is the mark of those who have escaped condemnation because they have come to know God through Jesus Christ.’ Basically, what John is clearly showing here is that if you are truly born again, you will love others who are also born again.

The word used here for love is agape. This indicates that the love we have for others in the body of Christ is not based on feelings or based on what they have done for us or how they have treated us. We simply choose to love them just as God chose to love us despite our faults, sins, and failures. Just as in any family, because we are all human, people in the body of Christ will offend you, betray you, and do things that you do not agree with. What do you do? You love them anyway. Love is the mark of the body of believers.

John calls those who do not love other Christians “murderers.” Is there somebody in your church whom you hate or despise — somebody whom you avoid at all costs, somebody whom you wish you didn’t have to see every time you went to church? The Bible classifies your attitude toward that person as murderous. Remember, God looks on your heart. Just because you have never said or done anything negative to that person, that does not negate your attitude. Kenneth L. Barker states, “In the heart there is no difference; to hate is to despise, to cut off from relationship, and murder is simply the fulfillment of that attitude.” Charles Spurgeon also stated, “Every man who hates another has the venom of murder in his veins. He may never actually take the deadly weapons into his hand and destroy life; but if he wishes that his brother were out of the way, if he would be glad if no such person existed, that feeling amounts to murder in the judgment of God.”

Dear friend, you need other believers, and other believers need you. Together, we grow stronger in our faith, encourage each other, and “provoke” each other to do what is right. Don’t ruin the fellowship that you could have by holding a grudge or becoming bitter toward another brother or sister. The Bible says, “How good and how pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity.”

Charles Wesley wrote this song which is applicable to our relationship with others in the body of Christ.

All praise to our redeeming Lord,
Who joins us by His grace,
And bids us, each to each restored,
Together seek His face.
He bids us build each other up;
And, gathered into one,
To our high calling’s glorious hope
We hand in hand go on.

Now, in the body of Christ, you ought not to always be a receiver. No matter how much the preaching, the singing, or the service of others is a blessing to you, you ought to be on the giving end some time. In fact, most of the time, you ought to be seeking to serve others — and not just to be served. Listen to these words again: “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

Jesus Christ came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. He could have easily demanded that everyone bow down and acknowledge Him as God before He died on the cross for them. But, He didn’t do that. He came and humbly served as the sacrifice for sin even though we didn’t deserve it. Are you willing to do the same? Are you willing to lay aside the trappings of whatever status or position you hold in the church or in the world and humbly give of your time, abilities, money, and provisions, in order to serve others?

In this passage, the word “perceive” tells us that we know that God loves us not just because He says so, but because He demonstrated that love by sacrificing His Son on the cross. We don’t have to guess and wonder about how God feels about us. We know because of what He has said and done. We ought to make it our business to make it plain that we love our brothers and sisters in Christ by acting in a manner that demonstrates that love to them — ‘not just in word and tongue; but in deed and in truth.’

If we commit to showing love to other believers and fellowshipping with other believers, we will have a much more effective, encouraging, and empowered walk with Christ.

Growing in Faith Through Christian Brotherhood, Part 1 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #28)

PART A


PART B


TEXT: 1 John 3:13-18

As we continue our series, allow me to read from the story of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan as a prelude to our topic for today. Christian has now come out of the Valley of Humiliation, and as he proceeds on his journey, he meets another believer who is also walking the straight and narrow way. Bunyan writes:

Now as Christian went on his way, he came to a slight ascent which was specially designed so that pilgrims could more easily see ahead of them; therefore Christian went up and, looking forward, he saw Faithful in the distance intent on his journey. Then did Christian call out loudly, “Here, here, look here. Wait, let me catch up and I will be your companion.” At this Faithful looked behind him, causing Christian to again cry out, “Wait, wait till I catch up with you.” But Faithful replied, “No, I travel with my life at stake, and the Avenger of Blood is close behind.”

This reply somewhat moved Christian, so mustering all his strength he quickly caught up with Faithful and in fact raced past him so that the last had become first! As a result Christian smiled with a sense of self-congratulation; he felt proud of now being ahead of his brother. Yet not paying attention to his feet, he suddenly stumbled and fell to the ground, and was unable to get up, that is until Faithful came up to help him?

Then I saw in my dream that both of them went on very lovingly together; and they had delightful conversation about all of the things that had happened to them on their pilgrimage.

You’ve heard it said many times that everybody needs somebody. When Christian left his home in the city of Destruction, he left alone, but he did not stay alone for long. All along the way to the Celestial City, he met and conversed with other servants of the King who helped him on his way. And, the fact of the matter is, none of us can make it on our own either. We need the friendship and companionship of other believers to help us grow and become stronger in the Christian faith. Today, I want to share with you one of the main reasons why this is the case.

One of the reasons why you need Christian friendships is because the world will not be friendly to you if you are a Christian. The apostle John writes, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” Yes, the world will hate those who are committed to Jesus Christ. Don’t be shocked, don’t be stunned if the world hates you. Once you become a follower of Christ, you are no longer a part of the world. You are no longer a part of Satan’s family. You are a part of God’s family, and the two are sworn enemies.

You need Christian friendship and companionship in order to live and grow as a Christian. One of the first things Jesus Christ did when He began His public ministry is he gathered twelve others around Him to work with Him. Even He did not try to go it alone. When Jesus Christ sent His disciples out to preach on their own, he sent them two-by-two. He did not send them out alone.

One of the basic marks of a follower of Jesus Christ is that he or she has a love for the church and other believers. Our passage states, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” You ought to want to be around other believers. You ought to want to fellowship with other believers. If you do not love your brothers and sisters in Christ — if you would rather hang out with worldly people than with other believers — then you ought to examine yourself to see if you are truly saved. John states, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”

Your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ ought not to be perfunctory, and it ought not just to be shown by your words. John tells us that we show our love for other believers through our actions. Using Jesus Christ as the ultimate example of someone who showed love by His actions, he states, ” Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” The word “perceive” means to know. We know that God loves us not just because He tells us so, but because He demonstrated that love by sacrificing His Son on the cross. The basic point of this verse is that believers ought to help other believers. We ought to care for each other and supply each others needs if we are able to do so. Verse 17 reads, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

Part of the reason why Jesus Christ established the church is so that believers might have a place of friendship, companionship, and refuge in a hostile world. Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Jesus’ words let us know that we will be hated by the world simply for the fact that we choose to identify with and follow Christ. If you try to walk in the world and among worldly people as a Christian, one of two things will happen: Either you will slowly but surely slip back into worldliness in order to fit in and receive the approval of the world, or you will be isolated and ostracized if you refuse to backslide and instead point out the evil in the world. Oftentimes, the result of this isolation, especially if you do not have a community of believers around you, is depression and growing weary in well-doing.

John Bunyan, the writer of Pilgrim’s Progress, was a Puritan preacher. The Puritans placed a high value on sharing their experiences with other believers in order to build each other up and strengthen each other in the faith. Richard Sibbes, an Anglican theologian, wrote: “For our better encouragement in these sad times, and to help our trust in God the more, we should often call to mind the former experiences, which either ourselves or others have had of God’s goodness, and make use of the same for our spiritual good. We should take notice of God’s dealings with us in sundry kinds; how many ways he hath refreshed us, and how good we have found him in our worst times. This hath formerly been the custom of God’s people, ‘Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.'”

The experiences we share in the body of Christ are part and parcel of being a Christian. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” We live in perilous times. As the second coming of Jesus Christ draws near, times will get harder and harder for Christian people. This world is not our home and it is not our friend. Satan’s influence in the world seems to get stronger and stronger as our society is turning away from basic moral principles and Judeo-Christian values. Things which would have been unspeakable just a few decades ago are commonplace and celebrated today: atheism, homosexuality, transgenderism, secularism, sexual relationships between students and teachers, just to name a few. The battle lines between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light have been drawn starker than ever before. The middle ground is shrinking. You must be on either one side or the other. And, if you are on the side of Christ and the church, you will be hated by the world which is controlled by Satan.

That is why we need each other. It can be a lonely world for a Christian who tries to walk the straight and narrow way on his own. He can easily become discouraged and frustrated. But, when we have each other to lean on, and when we can encourage each other with our shared experiences, we gain the strength to continue on our journey and to not grow weary in the faith.

There’s a hymn that expresses the unity that ought to exist among believers. It was written in 1782 by John Fawcett — “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.”

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts, and our cares.

We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

Have You Been Broken? Part 3 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #27)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

PART A:


PART B:


TEXT: 1 Corinthians 10:12-13: “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

As we continue our series on Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible, allow me to read from the story of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan as a prelude to our topic for today. As you may recall, Christian was in the Valley of Humiliation when he was approached by Apollyon. Apollyon began to attack Christian with his fiery darts. Christian used his shield to deflect most of the darts, but Bunyan tells us that he was wounded in his head, one of his hands and one of his feet.

Then Apollyon, espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall; and with that Christian’s sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, “I am sure of you now.” And with that he had almost pressed him to death, so that Christian began to despair of life; but as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching of his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly stretched out his hand for his sword, and caught it, saying, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall I shall arise.”

And with that gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound. Christian perceiving that, made at him again, saying, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us”. And with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon’s wings, and sped him away, that Christian for a season saw him no more.

We have already learned that one of the reasons why we need to be humbled and broken is so that we will be spiritually vigilant so that we will not fall into temptation. We also learned that we need to be humbled and broken so that we will grow stronger in our Christian faith by applying what we have learned and using the tools that we have been given.

Today, I want you to notice that we need to be humbled and broken in order to realize that it is only through God that we will be victorious over the enemy. Our passage states, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Notice that God is the one who provides a way of escape for us out of our temptations, trials, and difficulties. We like to think that we are able to make things happen ourselves, that we can find our own way out of trouble and distress. Most of us are not eager to lean on God or anybody else. One of the qualities that people have hailed about America is that of being able to “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.” Well, with God, it doesn’t work that way. When we get in trouble, we have to humble ourselves and depend on Him to get us out of it.

We see this in the story of Moses. Moses thought he could deliver the children of Israel his way. He went out among his people, saw what was going on, got angry, and ended up killing an Egyptian. God had to put him in the desert for 40 years. Once, he was the prince of Egypt; now, he was a fugitive helping to take care of sheep in the wilderness. What was God doing to him? God was humbling him and breaking him down. God was letting him know that he couldn’t do things his way. God was saying to him, ‘If the children of Israel are going to be delivered and freed, it is going to happen My way, Moses, not your way.’ God was not finished with Moses. God still planned to use Moses. But God needed to help Moses understand some things first. When Moses went back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites, he did it with God’s power, not his own.

He often has to do the same thing with us. When we face our trials and difficulties in life, our first instinct is to employ the human knowledge and capabilities that we have in order to get out of that situation. However, God wants us to not depend on our human capabilities, but to depend on Him and what we have learned from His word. In today’s reading from Pilgrim’s Progress, how did Christian defend himself and defeat Apollyon? He used the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Those weapons were his “way of escape” and they had been given to him by God.

One commentator wrote, “The Valley of Humiliation in The Pilgrim’s Progress represents our coming face to face with the reality of our own neediness. We are humbled when we cast down pride and recognize that we are undone before God and bring nothing to the table that would commend us to God.”

The only way we can be delivered from our trials, be victorious over our temptations, and successfully pass our tests is if we depend on God for the way of deliverance. And, in order to do that, we must be broken and humble before Him. We must be willing to no longer do things our way, but His way. We must take the way of escape that He has provided us. Matthew Henry said, “There is no valley so dark but he can find a way through it, no affliction so grievous but he can prevent, or remove, or enable us to support it, and in the end overrule it to our advantage.”

All things work together for our good. Even in the difficult moments of trial and temptation, or when we are going through a desert experience like Moses, God is working so that we will become humble and broken people who are vessels that God can use for His glory.

Have You Been Broken? Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #26)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

PART A


PART B


TEXT: 1 Corinthians 10:12-13

12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

As we continue our series on Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible, allow me to read from the story of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan as a prelude to our topic for today.

Now, in this Valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way, before he espied a foul fiend coming over the field to meet him; his name is Apollyon. Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast in his mind whether to go back or to stand his ground. But he considered again that he had no armor for his back; and therefore thought that to turn the back to him might give him the greater advantage with ease to pierce him with his darts.

Therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground; for, thought he, had I no more in mine eye than the saving of my life, it would be the best way to stand.

So he went on, and Apollyon met him. Now the monster was hideous to behold; he was clothed with scales, like a fish, (and they are his pride,) he had wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke, and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion. When he was come up to Christian, he beheld him with a disdainful countenance, and thus began to question with him.

Last time we saw Christian, he was on his way into the Valley of Humiliation. And, in that valley, he met the great enemy of every believer — the devil, here given one of his many names, Apollyon. Christian’s first test was whether or not he would turn and run or face his foe. And that provides a great starting point for our message today.

Last week, we learned that one of the reasons why we need to be humbled and broken is so that we will be spiritually vigilant so that we will not fall into temptation.

Another reason why we need to be broken and humble is so that we will grow stronger in our Christian faith by applying what we have learned and using the tools that we have been given. Our passage states, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Now, the word “temptation” involves not only an invitation to sin, which we dealt with last week, but a test or a trial. Continue reading “Have You Been Broken? Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #26)”

Have You Been Broken? Part 1 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #25)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

PART A: https://gospellightminute.buzzsprout.com/3192/239636-have-you-been-broken-part-1-a-pilgrim-s-progress-according-to-the-bible-25.mp3


PART B: https://gospellightminute.buzzsprout.com/3192/239641-have-you-been-broken-part-1-b-pilgrim-s-progress-according-to-the-bible-25.mp3


TEXT: 1 Corinthians 10:12-13: “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

As we continue our series on Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible, allow me to read from the story of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan as a prelude to our topic for today.

Then Christian began to go forward, but Discretion, Piety, Charity, and Prudence would accompany him down to the foot of the hill. So they went on together, reiterating their former discourses, till they came to go down the hill. Then said Christian: “As it was difficult coming up, so far as I can see, it is dangerous going down.” “Yes,” said Prudence, “so it is, for it is a hard matter for a man to go down into the Valley of Humiliation, as you are doing now, and to catch no slip by the way.” Therefore, said they, “are we come out to accompany you down the hill.” So he began to go down, but very warily; yet he caught a slip or two.

Christian had just had a wonderful time at the Palace Beautiful. He had come up the Hill of Difficulty, was well rested, and had received a new suit of armor and provisions for his journey. However, as he sets out once again to go to the Celestial City, he learns that he must travel through the Valley of Humiliation.

Think about the word “humiliation” for a moment. What kind of thoughts or feelings come to mind when you hear that word? No doubt, you have a negative reaction to the word “humiliation.” When we think of humiliation, we think of being embarrassed or put to shame. We think of failing in a very public and noticeable way. We think of being laughed at. We think of walking into a room and immediately people start whispering because of something we said or did in the past. One dictionary defines humiliation as “the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission.”

Even though we may think negatively of the idea of humiliation, lowliness, submission, or brokenness, the Bible is replete with the importance of this subject in God’s eyes. The more common term in the Bible is humility. Notice these verses:

Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.”

Proverbs 16:18-19 says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”

Proverbs 29:23 says, “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.”

In Luke 18:14, Jesus Christ said, “Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

James 4:6-7 says, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God.”

James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”

Yes, being humbled and broken is a part of the Christian life.

Why do we need to be humbled and broken? We need to be humbled lest we fall into sin due to a lack of spiritual vigilance. Paul says, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” This admonishment comes at the end of a passage in which Paul relates the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt and how that shortly after that great deliverance, they fell into sin multiple times.

Listen to what Paul says: “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.”

Paul concludes by saying, “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” In other words, Paul says we ought to look at what happened to the Israelites and learn from it. The Israelites were saved from slavery in Egypt, and yet after that great deliverance, they fell into idolatry, fornication, and complaining and murmuring against God. Perhaps they thought that since they were God’s “chosen people” that God would not punish them severely. They did not take the laws that God had given Moses seriously. Perhaps because of their privileged status, they thought they could get away with complaining and murmuring when things did not go their way.

Paul says to New Testament believers that we ought to learn from what happened to them. They had to go through forty years of wandering in the wilderness. That was their Valley of Humiliation.

After receiving great blessings from God, the Israelites were not as vigilant and conscientious as they should have been. The same thing happens to Christians today. We are extremely blessed, good things are happening for us, we have assurance of salvation, we’re on our way to Heaven, and we think nothing can stop us now. Then, we stop being vigilant and watchful about our spiritual condition. We fail to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We get blindsided by one of the devil’s schemes. And, before we know it, we have fallen into sin. Paul says, ‘Watch out! If you think you’re standing strong, take heed lest you fall.’

William Mason, in his commentary on Pilgrim’s Progress, writes: “It is after a pilgrim has been favored with special and peculiar blessings that there is danger of his being puffed up by them, and exalted on account of them. So even was Paul; therefore, the messenger of Satan was permitted to buffet him. In our present state, the Lord knows it would not be best for us always to dwell on the mount of spiritual joy; therefore, for the good of the soul, the flesh must be humbled, and kept low lest spiritual pride prevail. It is hard going down into the Valley of Humiliation, without slipping into murmuring and discontent, and calling in question the dealings of God with us.”

How can we remain humble and broken in our spiritual life? Well, Paul’s warning to the Corinthians is that they acknowledge the fact that they are spiritually vulnerable. None of us is invincible. And if you are so proud that you think you are invincible, that is proof of your vulnerability. Remember the story of the Babylonian king Belteshazzar. On the night that the Persians came to attack the great city of Babylon, Belteshazzar called together his lords and threw a party. They feasted and drank while the Persians marched toward the city gates. Historians tell us that Babylon was surrounded by two walls — 56 miles long, 300 feet high, 25 feet thick, and the walls extended 35 feet below the ground. The Babylonians thought they were invincible. And as they were feasting and partying, the Persians came, diverted the River Euphrates which ran through the middle of the city, and marched into Babylon on the river bed. At the moment when the Babylonians thought they could not be conquered, that is when the great empire fell.

That is what the devil wants to happen to you. Now that you are delivered from his kingdom of darkness, he wants you to get puffed up with pride and the feeling that you are spiritually secure. And that is the moment when he will strike and cause you to fall. Adam Clarke said, “The highest saint under heaven can stand no longer than he depends upon God and continues in the obedience of faith. He that ceases to do so will fall into sin, and get a darkened understanding and a hardened heart.”

This is what we must do today: Make the decision to remain humble and broken. Realize that you cannot live the Christian life on your own. Realize that you cannot stand for God and truth and righteousness on your own. Realize that you need the power of the Holy Spirit working in you.

One of the reasons why our churches are ineffective in evangelism and in the transformation of people’s lives is because we are saying all the right things, we believe all the right things, we teach and preach all the right things, and we think that life transformation will happen because of what we say, what we do, and what we teach and preach when that is not it at all. Those things are good, but we cannot depend on those things. That is not where the power is. The power is in the Holy Spirit of God. We must depend on Him to see people saved and to see lives changed. Zechariah 4:6 says, “It is not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.”

Dear friend, take stock of your spiritual life. What are you depending on for victory? Are you depending on your rituals and activity? Are you confident in your faithful church attendance or your faithful participation in Bible study? Keep doing those things, but be humble. Understand that spiritual victory is not based on what you do for God, but on what God does through you. Don’t become so enamored with mountain top experiences that you lose sight of the fact that we have an adversary the devil who ‘walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’ “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 10 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #24)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

In Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, the main character, Christian, receives a suit of armor to put on as he prepares to continue his journey to the Celestial City. Bunyan writes, “The next day they took him and had him into the Armory, where they shewed him all manner of armor, which their Lord had provided for Pilgrims, as Sword, Shield, Helmet, Breastplate, All-prayer, and Shoes that would not wear out. And there was here enough of this to harness out as many men for the service of their Lord as there be stars in the Heaven for multitude.“ We, too, face enemies and danger in our walk with Christ, and God has given us armor to put on. So far, in this series, we have looked at six pieces of armor that God has supplied for us as we face spiritual battle every day :

1. The belt of truth.
2. The breastplate of righteousness.
3. The shoes of the Gospel of peace.
4. The shield of faith.
5. The helmet of salvation.
6. The sword of the Spirit — the Word of God.

After a very detailed discussion on the pieces of armor that a Christian needs to put on, one might think that that is all there is too it. But it isn’t. There is one more thing we must do in order to be battle ready. No, it is not another piece of armor. But, based on the way Paul talks about it, it is extremely important. It is prayer.

Three times in a single verse, Paul urges us to engage in prayer as part of our warfare. First, he says we ought to be “praying always,” that is we ought to be in a constant spirit of prayer. We ought to pray “in every season” and at “every opportunity.” Second, he says, “with all prayer,” that is with all forms of prayer which we will discuss shortly today. Third, he says, “and with supplication,” that is to make our requests, in the name of Christ, for things that are in God’s will.

In his commentary on Ephesians, John MacArthur writes, “All the while that we are fighting in the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, we are to be in prayer. Prayer is the very spiritual air that the soldier of Christ breathes. It is the all-pervasive strategy in which warfare is fought.”

Because spiritual warfare is a constant struggle, we ought to be constantly praying. The Bible commands us to “pray without ceasing.” But, what does it mean to pray with “all prayer and supplication.” This means that we should not hesitate to engage in prayer in all its forms — whether alone or with others, in private or in public, silent prayer or praying aloud — all prayer is to be engaged.

Scholars have found in the Bible eight types of prayer. Allow me to share them with you.

1. The prayer of faith. This is a prayer for something that is in God’s will, but is yet to come to pass. In this prayer, you express belief in the power of God to bring things to pass. James 5:15 says, “The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

2. The prayer of agreement or corporate prayer. This is simply praying with other believers. In Acts 1:14, we find that Jesus’ followers “all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” in the upper room before Pentecost.

3. The prayer of request. When Paul used the word “supplication”, he was talking about this kind of prayer — asking God for your needs and desires. Philippians 4:6 teaches us to “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” John R. Rice said, “Prayer is simply asking and receiving.”

4. The prayer of thanksgiving. This is a prayer of gratitude to God for what He has done for you. This is a prayer you pray after God has answered your prayers. Philippians 4:6 says we ought to offer “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.”

5. The prayer of worship. This is a prayer of praise to God where you aren’t asking or thanking Him for anything specifically, but you are just worshipping Him because of who He is. In Acts 13, we read of early Christians who were “worshipping the Lord and fasting.”

6. The prayer of consecration. When something or someone is consecrated, it means that they are set aside to do God’s will and be used for God’s purposes. Jesus Christ prayed a prayer of consecration in the Garden of Gethsemane when He told His Heavenly Father, “Not my will, but thine be done.” Jesus also taught us to pray this way in the Lord’s prayer which says, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

7. The prayer of intercession. This is when we pray for the needs of others. In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul says, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” You ought to always have in mind someone you can pray for other than yourself.

8. The prayer of imprecation. These are prayers that invoke God’s judgment on the wicked. David and others prayed these types of prayers in the Psalms. However, Jesus teaches us as Christians to pray for blessings on our enemies, not cursing. He said in Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Of course, that is often a hard thing to do, but we can do it through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Those are the eight types of prayer found in the Bible. When we “pray always with all prayer,” we are engaging, at different times, in all types of prayer.

As a final command regarding spiritual warfare, we are told that we ought to be “watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” This means that we must be alert and we must be watching in order that we might pray. We ought to be on the lookout for saints who are faltering that we might lift them up in prayer. We ought to be on the lookout for sinners that we might lift them up in prayer, asking God to deliver them from their spiritual blindness. We ought to be ready to pray for people and situations at a moment’s notice.

John Piper describes this wonderfully when he calls prayer our “war-time walkie-talkie.” He said prayer “is mainly for those on the front lines of the war effort to call in to headquarters to send help. One of the reasons our prayer malfunctions is that we try to treat it like a domestic intercom for calling the butler for another pillow in the den rather than treating it like a wartime walkie-talkie for calling down the power of the Holy Spirit in the battle for souls.”

That is what we need prayer for in spiritual battle — to ask God to step in and defeat the enemy through the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words we need air power through prayer power. Throughout this series we have mentioned numerous times how that we are not fighting this battle in our own strength, but in the strength of “the Lord and the power of His might.” And the only way to call down the power of the Lord into our present-day spiritual battles is through prayer — so pray always!

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 8 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #22)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

Some Things to Take With You Throughout the New Year

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

So far, in this series, we have looked at four pieces of the armor which God has supplied:

1. The belt of truth — the truth of God’s Word is the foundation to any successful spiritual warfare.

2. The breastplate of righteousness — we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and we must determine to live in obedience to God if we are to be victorious in spiritual warfare.

3. The shoes of the Gospel of peace — part of our job as Christians is to faithfully carry the message of the Gospel wherever we go.

4. The shield of faith — our faith in God and in His Word will enable us to deflect and extinguish Satan’s fiery darts.

Today, we are going to look at the fifth piece of armor — the helmet of salvation. The Bible says, “And take the helmet of salvation…”

First of all, notice the verb “take.” This word lets us know that putting on our armor is a conscious choice. It is something that we must choose to do every day. Just being saved does not mean that we are automatically fit for battle. Some Christians go out in the world every day unprepared for warfare, and they wonder why, by the time they get home, they are defeated, depressed, and discouraged. The thing is, they let Satan beat up on them all day because they failed to put on their armor.

So, along with our other pieces of armor, we must choose to put on the helmet of salvation. The Greek word for “take” is in the aorist imperative tense which carries with it a sense of urgency. We are to pick up and put on the helmet — and do it now!

In this verse, Paul is not talking about receiving salvation itself, for we have already received that. Rather, he is talking about the need for us to not allow the devil to destroy our assurance of salvation. Now, once you accept Christ, you are saved whether you feel like it or not. (Jesus Christ makes sure of that because it is about what He did on the cross, not about what you have done or are doing.) However, you will be more effective in your Christian life and in spiritual warfare if you are confident of your own salvation. Just as a soldier who doubts his ability to fight is timid in his approach to warfare, just like the football player who is worried about being hurt, does not play with abandon, and ends up getting hurt anyway, if you have doubts and worries about your salvation, you will be timid in your approach to spiritual life.

When Satan wants to target our assurance of salvation, where does he attack? He attacks the mind. This is why the helmet of salvation is a necessity. Steven Cole writes, “Your head is a very important part of your body, because it contains your brain, which controls everything. Your head determines how you think about all of life. How you think in large part determines how you feel and how you act….To put on the helmet of salvation requires that you learn to think biblically… You must develop a Christian mindset, a saved mindset. Your head determines how you function in all of life. If your brain is not working properly, it affects how other parts of your body work.”

Someone once said, “What you think means more than anything else in your life. More than what you earn, more than where you live, more than your social position, and more than what anyone else may think about you.”

As you face each day, how do you think about yourself? Do you see yourself as a child of God, who is no longer a slave to the devil and sin? Do you see yourself as a believer who has the power of the Holy Spirit to help resist temptation? Do you see yourself as a Christian who has already overcome the world through Jesus Christ? The condition of your mind — what you think about your salvation and what you think about the devil’s lies — will determine how victorious you are.

Another reason why putting on the helmet of salvation is important is because it gives us hope for the future by reminding us about the second coming of Jesus Christ. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:8, “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” In this context, Paul is referring to the return of Jesus Christ as our blessed hope. Living in this sin-cursed world can be a cause of depression and discouragement for the believer. If we are not careful, we can become so entangled in the affairs of this world that we lose sight of the great hope for the future that we have in Jesus Christ. That is where the helmet of salvation comes in. In his book, The Strategy of Satan: How to Detect and Defeat Him, Warren Wiersbe writes that the helmet of salvation is “referring to the hope the believer has in the return of Jesus Christ.” He says, “Satan often uses discouragement and hopelessness as weapons to oppose us. It is when we are discouraged that we are the most vulnerable. We will make foolish decisions and be susceptible to all kinds of temptations. When the mind is protected by ‘the blessed hope’ of the Lord’s return, Satan cannot use discouragement to attack and defeat us. Discouragement is a lethal weapon in the hands of the enemy. Moses and Elijah became so discouraged they asked God to kill them. The psalms record some of the occasions when David was ‘in the depths’ and could only hope in God.”

Dear friend, let me encourage you to put on the helmet of salvation every day. If you are discouraged, it will encourage you. If you are depressed, it will lift you up. If you are doubting your salvation, it will reassure you. If you are losing sight of God’s plan for the future, it will remind you that we have a blessed hope and a glorious appearing to look forward to. Keep your head up and your helmet on!

One of the techniques that Olympic competitors use to increase their chances of victory is visualization. Before their competition, they visualize themselves performing in the way they wish to perform. In their mind’s eye they picture themselves flawlessly running, swimming, skating, skiing, etc. They picture themselves outdistancing and outperforming their competition. They picture themselves stepping up to the platform and raising a medal in victory. Why is visualization effective? Because it steels the mind against thoughts of negativity, failure, and defeat. Those who go into the competition thinking that they will be victorious are far more likely to win than those who go in already thinking that they will be defeated.

Ladies and gentlemen, we already have the assurance of victory because “greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.” Believe the Word of God, put on the helmet of salvation, and be victorious in spiritual warfare.

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 7 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #21)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

So far, in this series, we have looked at three pieces of the armor which God has supplied:

1. The belt of truth — we must understand that our belief in the truth of God’s Word is the foundation to any successful spiritual warfare.

2. The breastplate of righteousness — we must understand that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and we must determine to live in obedience to God if we are to be victorious in spiritual warfare.

3. The shoes of the preparation of the Gospel of peace — we must understand that part of our job as Christians is to faithfully carry the message of the Gospel wherever we go.

Today, we are going to look at the fourth piece of armor — the shield of faith. The Bible says, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

Now, the Roman shield, which was what Paul was using as a model, was a very large, slightly curved rectangular shield featuring at its center a large metal knob (called a boss). The shield was an impressive tool of defense. Some of these shields were three and a half feet tall and almost three feet wide, and soldiers were afforded a great deal of protection from enemies.

One of the famous tactics of the Roman infantry is called the tortoise formation in which the soldiers advanced against their enemy as a single, tight, compact unit. The soldiers on the outside of this unit would hold their shields so that the edges were touching the shields of the soldiers to their right and left. The soldiers in the middle of this unit would hold their shields above their head, again with the edges touching the shields of those around them. One of the benefits of this formation is that it protected the soldiers from the arrows of their enemies.

The Bible tells us that our shield of faith is meant to deflect the flaming darts (or arrows) of the wicked one. First of all, what is faith, and how is it meant to be used as a shield? The Bible’s definition of faith states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” At its very core, faith is a strong, unyielding belief in God Almighty and His only begotton Son Jesus Christ even though we can’t see them. However, this faith is not belief based on nothing. Rather, this belief is based on the solid foundation of God’s Word. It is our firm belief in the Word of God which deflects the flaming arrows of the wicked one.

The second question we must ask is what are the fiery darts which the enemy shoots at us? These fiery darts are meant to tear at our faith, our belief, and our confidence in the Word of God. The devil knows that if he can get us to stop believing the Word of God and start acting on our feelings or our own human ideas, he can eventually defeat us.

The fiery darts of the wicked one take on several forms.

1. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of doubt at us. He will tell us that God will not really do what He says He will do. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie…”

2. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of discouragement at us. He will tell us that our present situation will never get better. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Romans 8:28 that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

3. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of delay at us. He will try to get us to stop trusting God because something that we wanted to happen yesterday still has not happened yet. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.”

4. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of difficulty at us. He will place people and circumstances as obstacles in our path to try to get us to stumble and eventually give up on whatever it is God has called us to do. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

5. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of depression at us. He will try to steal our joy, our contentment, and our happiness from us. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lies because Jesus Christ said in John 16:33, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Although the shield is a defensive weapon, raising the shield is something we must actively do each time the fiery darts of the devil come flying at us. Rick Warren said putting on the shield of faith is “trusting God, no matter what you see, hear, or feel about the world around you. You need the certainty of God when you face the uncertainty of Satan’s fiery darts.”

The devil will never stop throwing his fiery darts at us. That is why we must never take off this all-important piece of armor. We must spend time in the word of God so that we will know what God says about the various difficulties we will face along our Christian journey. When we face those difficulties, we can raise the shield of faith to deflect the arrows and extinguish the fiery darts that the devil throws our way.

During the second World War, a town in England was bombed by the Germans one moonlit night. When workers were clearing away the debris, they found on top of a heap of rubbish a sailor’s prayer book, open at the Twenty-seventh Psalm, with the thirteenth verse marked. That verse reads: “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” The incident was widely commented upon in Great Britain, for it seemed to many that the verse noted in the open prayer book found amid the ruins of that town was the secret of Britain’s magnificent endurance during the worst days of her trial. The victory was won, not just by battleships and tanks and rifles and armed men, but by faith in God and by faith that they would be victorious in the war. Unless the Britons had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in their land, unless they had believed that the future included the survival of their country, they may very well have fainted and given up hope that they would be victorious.

When we believe God’s promises, when we put our trust in Him by holding the shield of faith aloft as we go into battle, we will not faint, and we will eventually be victorious.

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 6 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #20)

PART A

PART B

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

There was a time in the life of Martin Luther when his conflict with Satan became so real that it took on an almost physical manifestation. In his anger against Satan, Martin Luther picked up his inkwell and threw it at the devil which he believed was in the room with him. The inkwell broke and splattered ink all over his wall, and the stain remained for many years, reminding people of how real the conflict with Satan was in Martin Luther’s life. Though we may not be at the spiritual level of a Martin Luther, we must understand that our conflict with Satan is just as real. The Christian and Satan are in a mortal, life-and-death, hand-to-hand combat. That is why it is essential that we put on the whole armor of God.

So far in this series, we have looked at two pieces of the armor which God supplies for the believer.

The first piece is the “belt of truth” which is our belief in the Word of God and our faith in the One who said He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” The second piece of armor is the breastplate of righteousness which is essential if we are going to repel the attacks of the enemy. This piece of armor is provided not because of our own righteousness, but because of Christ’s righteousness which covers the life of every believer.

The Bible describes the armor that God supplies for all Christians in the book of Ephesians. The first piece of armor is the belt of truth. The Bible says, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.” The truth, of course, is the Word of God; and we arm ourselves with the truth when we believe in Jesus Christ and we believe the Word of God.

Today, we are going to look at the third part of the Christian’s armor — the shoes of the gospel of peace. After we have put on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness, we are to put on the shoes of the gospel of peace. The Bible states, “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”

You probably don’t think about the importance of the shoes you wear each day. In fact, the only time you probably think about the shoes you wear is when you are getting ready to go to a fancy event and you want to make sure that the shoes you are wearing are appropriate and selected to impress others. However, for a soldier, shoes are very important. A soldier who goes into war barefoot will be hindered by the rough terrain, pebbles, stones, and other debris on the battle field. The right kind of footwear enables a soldier to advance against the enemy without encumbrance.

Roman soldiers wore the caliga, a thick-soled, hob-nailed, half-boot which had leather straps that were tied around and fastened tightly to each foot. It was heavily studded with metal nails to give stability in all forms of terrain. It was not strictly a weapon but part of the soldier’s equipment, especially for long, fast-paced marches.

However, for the Christian soldier, his shoes are not just mere protection for his feet. His shoes are built with a purpose. The Christian goes forth not just to fight against the enemy, but to spread the gospel of peace to those bound by the enemy. A Christian who goes forth to make war against Satan is also one who continuously carries forth the message that God has sent Jesus Christ to make peace with man. Thus, to have our feet clothed with the gospel of peace means we must believe the gospel ourselves, and be serious about sharing the gospel with others.

John Piper has pointed out that it is strange that we find a focus on peace in the midst of this passage on war. However, he said, “The aim of our warfare is that people would accept the terms of peace that God holds out, namely, faith in Jesus. And the only reason there is any conflict at all is because the power of sin and the powers of Satan are dead set against [allowing people to] make peace with God.”

If you are not actively seeking out ways you can share the Gospel of peace, you are not fulfilling all of your duty as a Christian.

Quoting Isaiah in Romans 10:15, Paul says, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” The Greek word for “gospel”, which is where we get our word “evangelist” from, simply means to ‘proclaim good news.’ It was a word used when a messenger ran from the battlefield back to the city to proclaim that the army had been victorious in battle. Likewise, we are ambassadors from Heaven, living in this world, proclaiming the victory of Jesus Christ over sin, death, hell, and the devil.

In 490 B.C. King Darius of Persia invaded Greece and threatened the city of Athens. The Athenians sent their champion runner to Sparta to summon help. The runner, whose name was Pheidippides, ran for two days and two nights the 140 miles to Sparta only to find that the Spartans were unwilling to respond until the moon was full. He ran back to Athens with the disappointing news.

The Persians landed on the Greek coast and set up their camp on the plain of Marathon, about 25 miles away. The runner joined the famous Ten Thousand Athenian warriors who charged down upon the Persians and defeated them. He was then asked to carry the news of the victory back to Athens. He ran all the way there, staggered into the city and announced, “Rejoice, we conquer!” Then he collapsed and died.

Dear friend, I ask: are you willing to sacrifice it all in order to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and His victory of sin, death, and Hell, to the people who desperately need to hear it? The message of the Gospel of peace that we have is a message the world needs to hear, but the devil will do everything in his power to prevent us from delivering that message. That is why we need to put on the armor of God.

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 5 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #19)

[audio https://www.buzzsprout.com/3192/229052-the-armor-god-supplies-for-the-christian-part-5-pilgrim-s-progress-according-to-the-bible-19.mp3]

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

Pastor Rick Warren once related the story of how he and some of their church workers regularly visited a prison in California which held some of the state’s most violent gang members. The prison was well-known for the brawls that often broke out there among prisoners, often requiring police in full riot gear to enter in order to restore order in the prison. Warren said that the prison warden informed him that when they came to the prison they needed to be prepared for anything — including having to run for their lives. Warren said that this meant they couldn’t go to the prison wearing shorts and flip-flops. In his words, they had to be “suited and booted.” They had to be ready to defend themselves and ready to get out of the way if a brawl broke out while they were at the prison.

Ladies and gentlemen, in this world, Christians need to be “suited and booted” at all times. We must adopt the slogan of the U.S. Coast Guard — semper paratus, “always ready” — because the devil can attack at anytime. That is why we must put on the whole armor of God.

Last week, you might recall from Pilgrim’s Progress that Christian received his suit of armor from the Palace Beautiful before he set out to continue his journey to the Celestial City.

The Bible describes the armor that God supplies for all Christians in the book of Ephesians. The first piece of armor is the belt of truth. The Bible says, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.” The truth, of course, is the Word of God; and we arm ourselves with the truth when we believe in Jesus Christ and we believe the Word of God.

Today, we are going to look at the second part of the Christian’s armor — the breastplate of righteousness. After we have put on the belt of truth, the Bible says, “and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” A breastplate is a large piece of armor that covers the front of the body from the chest to the waist.

For the Roman soldiers of Paul’s day, the breastplate provided protection for the torso, which contains the vital organs including the heart and the lungs. Without his breastplate, a soldier would be asking for death, as any injury to his body could become fatal. With a strong breastplate, however, the same blows from the enemy are rendered ineffective.

This passage calls righteousness our breastplate. There are two elements of righteousness that make up this piece of defensive armor. The first is found in the basic definition of righteousness — that is right doing or right living — doing the right thing. If we are living in sin, it is as if we are going into battle without any of our armor on. We are exposed to Satanic attack and trickery. Unconfessed sin in our lives is one of the main reasons why Christians are defeated spiritually. So, if we are not living right, we have not put on the breastplate of righteousness.

The second element of righteousness is walking in the confidence that we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Remember, by His death on the cross, and our acceptance of that sacrifice, God imputed the righteousness of Jesus Christ to us. God no longer sees us as sinners, but as saints. We are viewed as innocent before God because we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Paul writes in Philippians 3, “not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

John Gill said, “the righteousness of Christ, which being imputed by God, and received by faith, is a guard against, and repels the accusations and charges of Satan, and is a security from all wrath and condemnation.”

The devil will try to attack us mentally by bringing up our old sins, failures, and faults. He will try to make us believe that God has not forgiven us and that we are still just like we were before we accepted salvation through Jesus Christ. If we succumb to the devil’s lies, and fail to cling to the truth of God’s Word — that we are righteous because of Jesus Christ — we will lose many spiritual battles.

Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, the German reformer and prominent leader of the Moravian church, wrote a hymn that describes how Christ is our righteousness and how we stand in that righteousness as followers of Him.

Bold can I stand in every way,
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully, by Christ, absolved I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

This spotless robe the same appears,
When ruined nature sinks in years;
No age can change its glorious hue,
Its glory is forever new.

Thou God of power, Thou God of love,
Let all Thy saints Thy mercy prove;
Our beauty this, our warrior’s dress,
Jesus the Lord, our Righteousness.

Dear friend, with Jesus Christ as your righteousness, you can stand boldly against the attacks of the devil. So, put on the breastplate of righteousness! If we are committed to righteous living and if we walk in the confidence that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, we can and will be successful in spiritual battle.